Albert Mertz:
Total Mertz

6. February 1999 to 11. April 1999

Albert Mertz : Total Mertz

The great lifework of Albert Mertz can be characterised by its variety. Theories and methods of work were uncompromisingly tried out and transformed in an artistic praxis, which in spite of its diversity is so characteristically Albert Mertz. Identity does not manifest itself as style, but as an inner correlation. This is what Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Centre focused on, the breadth, the variety and the intensity of this characteristic Albert Mertz, in our part of the large Mertz project. 

The project also included exhibitions shown at the Art Museum of Vestsjælland, Esbjerg Art Museum and Køge Art Museum of Sketches. 

Albert Mertz's diversity was guided by two contradictory tendencies, theoretical investigation and anarchy, breaking every rule. One can see his interest in theory from an early date, his tutorials with Aksel Jørgensen started off a lifelong interest in questions of composition. He took his subject matter from the real world, often everyday people and their actions, and depicted them in a stylised format, which emerged as a synthesis of his theory of composition and his interest in social, civic affairs. 

Even though many of his pictures include elements of humour, so characteristic of much of Albert Mertz's work, the exhibition also showed pictures that with their severe, almost threatening nature, supplement and deepen the common understanding of Albert Mertz as simply a humorous artist. From the fifties onward, at the same time as painting these pictures, Albert Mertz started to use bits from the real world for his collages. The collage as a method of working become fundamental to Albert Mertz throughout his production. Here his absurd, disrespectful, groundbreaking imagination was let loose. 

The exhibition showed examples from the earliest collages, his pop pictures from the early sixties inspired by the images of mass culture, as well as his imaginative use of all kinds of visual material, from three dimensional postcards to his own amateur photographs and illustrations from weekly magazines. In the seventies Albert Mertz started to explore the red-blue concept, an ongoing exploration which continued until his death, and which almost became his signature. Red-blue is an idea manifested as actual colour, a colour which takes over the world, and thereby also changes how we see it. The red-blue theme was developed through paintings, through surface decoration and through coloured objects, such as his red-blue giant chairs and the red-blue Mertz cakes. 

At the exhibition, besides paintings, collages, drawings and objects, one could get to experience Albert Mertz's work with experimental sounds, his photos and examples of his extensive and important work with film.